The games of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents are games with a basic, seemingly silly premise; when the main characters dance to music, people are encouraged to finish their goal. They are cheerleaders taken to the ultimate extreme for the sake of an entertaining game. But, when looked at closely, the full depth of the ideas behind these games can be recognized in their entirety, and the themes present can be fully appreciated. The Ouendan and the Agents are not simply cheering on their targets, but they are interacting with the person's soul at its purest form.
The primary theory behind this is that there are a small number of individuals who are capable of witnessing the human soul in some form. Some can see it, others can hear it, some might feel it. It is entirely possible that there are even people who can smell or taste it. It is an inborn ability of select individuals, capable of directly understanding the spirit of others. And, since they know the spirits of others, they can also understand how to interact with it; how to amplify it, to swell the soul to its fullest potential.
The Elite Beat Agents are composed of those who can hear the soul, in the form of music; if soul has a sound, what else could it be? Music is, in fact, the emotions of its composers manifest in words and melody. Music is charged first with the feelings of that who writes and plays it, their meaning made into reality via sound. And then, when an audience hears that melody, the emotions are then reflected into them, stirring up a reaction in the heart of the listener. This is the power of music over a person, over their very spirit. The Agents do not merely dance to a randomly chosen song for each mission, but the Song that they can hear from their target. By synchronizing with this rhythm, they add to the soul's strength and volume. In general, the Music is a quiet medley of songs, blended into an appropriate orchestra, but when a person's soul is charged—either by a flurry of powerful emotion, such as panic, fear, or hope, or because the individual is a particularly strong-willed one—the Music can be heard as a specific Song, loud and clear. This is the Music that the Agents make their missions out of: the Elite Beat Agents dance to the Rhythm of Life.
The Ouendan, on the other hand, are a group of individuals who are capable of seeing the spirit, embodied by flames. The higher a person's fire burns, the stronger their willpower is. It is when that fire starts to sputter and die that these cheerleaders must step in and stoke the flames. Unlike the EBA, the Ouendan's cheering does not rely on music in any capacity. They instead focus strictly on the power of emotions in order to motivate their target. They heat up their own souls through determination (note: the term 'heat' is figurative, as the Ouendan merely see the soul and do not feel it), so they use sharp and quick movements and allow their fiercest emotions to show; they rely on amplifying their own spirit, which in turn reflects and charges up on the target.
The differences between the two different teams can be seen through numerous details in the games, the first being in the attitudes of the different cheerers. Since the Ouendan rely on passion, determination, and strength to overcome their tasks, their manner is serious, stoic, and composed. But the Agents are considerably more lighthearted and cheerful; music can be both serious and silly in nature, often celebrating love or joy, so the attitudes of the Agents are most often lighter and less serious. This is even seen in the people that the different teams are assisting, since it is the emotions of the different teams being reflected on their targets. Those that the Ouendan help are shown making fierce poses and passionate expressions, while the Agents' targets smile and dance. The Ouendan take power from heat, fire, and faith, and the Agents from the free nature of melody, leading to obvious differences in their behaviors.
Further evidence to back up this theory can be found in the imagery of the games, particularly Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. O.T.O. makes heavy usage of fire images that never appear in E.B.A. When the Ouendan arrive on the scene for each level, their calls of "OSU!" inspire the previously panicked target to become motivated, and fire rises behind them: the first sign that their souls are being 'fired up.' Also, if the player maintains a perfect score long enough to hit certain combo markers, fire will rise in the background behind the cheerleaders. The higher the score count goes, the higher the flames rise; an indication of the spirit charging stronger and stronger with your cheering. And, during the final levels of the Ouendan games, when on an All-300 streak, the screen will show fire rising behind all the people who have banded together on the upper screen. None of these images of fire are copied in any of the similar situations for Elite Beat Agents, indicating differences in the way the two separate teams work.
After looking into how the Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents perform their tasks, it can then be seen what this means for what happens in the games. The different cheer groups use their abilities to charge peoples' emotions and willpower, allowing them to overcome their tasks. But, obviously, there are many emotions to feed off of when charging the soul, and different feelings have different effects on people when in a charged state. Agents and Ouendan are often careful to pick the right emotions for their target to have amplified; determination, cooperation, and devotion, while all similar traits, have different qualities that require the right choice for a given situation. This is why the cheerleaders must make sure the soul is properly motivated for their target's goal.
However, if a massive crisis occurred, or the cheer teams rushed their choice of which emotion to amplify, a poor decision could lead to disaster. In the final levels of Elite Beat Agents and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, the whole world is threatened by one fearsome force. As all people around the planet tailspin into panic, the EBA and Ouendan need to act fast, and each make the same fatal mistake; grabbing at the strongest, most prevalent emotions. Fear, desperation, and anger run rampant in the souls of each person, and it is these emotions that the teams take and begin inflating. While such emotions are truly powerful, with an extreme effect on the soul and are extremely effective in motivating a person, they can't be used to sustain such a desperate situation. Anger and desperation can only work briefly to motivate a person, but these negative emotions can eat away at a person and result in a collapse of their will as they succumb to the strain put on their spirit.
Worse yet, these final missions are different from the earlier ones in the game in that they do not focus on one individual, nor a very small group, but on everyone in the world. To truly help these people overcome, all of them must band together, otherwise there is no way that everyone can be helped at once. But feelings like fear and anger cause self-preservation, a tendency to put oneself before others. The Ouendan compound this mistake, letting the rivalry and separation between the Asahi and the Yuuhi squads distract them from the importance of bringing the people together.
The Agents and the Ouendan realize their mistakes too late; everything falls apart, with the souls of all around them in a fire too desperate and burning out of control and beyond repair. There is nothing thee teams can do to help but buy a fraction more time for the people that they have dedicated their lives to assisting. With the wrong emotions amplified at the worst of times, the cheer teams have left the people no better off in their time of need as before-perhaps even worse.
And this is where we see the true power of the soul come to light, for whereas the negative emotions pulled people apart and brought them down, the positive emotions arise to bring them together, stronger than ever. Hope, love, and trust arise in the mourners. Though all seems lost, they find it in themselves to put their faith in their fallen heroes... and then, they begin to cheer. These are ordinary people, who have no power to see or hear the soul. But enough of them band together, cheering in unison with the same intent, the same hopes and the same prayers, that their own souls begin to band together and gain strength. These people gain enough power, when banded together, to recharge the spirits of those who had charged theirs in the past. They revitalize the Agents and the Ouendan entirely via their determination: sheer force of will.
And, with their souls and willpower already bound together so tightly to make a miracle like that happen, the potential is limitless when that force is actually guided and led by teams who know how to work with and amplify the spirits. The Agents and the Ouendan have been masters of overcoming the most overwhelming odds, and with this amount of power to work with, the impossible suddenly is well within their grasp.
The human soul is strong on its own, but it need not always be alone. In the final level of each of these three games, we finally see that the spirits of all living things are not at all separate, each individual connected through invisible thread of will. We are not aware of the connection on our own wavelengths, but should we all be brought together, each in sync and in perfect harmony with one another, then we truly cannot be stopped. And this is what happens. With all the souls of Earth brought together, all with the same goal in mind, and then amplified tenfold by the cheerleaders, it ceases to be something only few can see or hear. The Music of the Agents is no longer a sound, but a bright, blue glow, and the Fire of the Ouendan burns high enough for all to see. But it still does not stop there. If you turn a bassline up loud enough, you do not merely hear it, you feel it in your body. If a light is turned on bright enough, it can burn. And the soul, when charged up enough, becomes, for all literal meanings, a force. And the spirit of every single person, working together in their time of need, reaches out and destroys its threat. No physical weapons are used, merely the heart and passion of all people on the planet. This is the soul's ultimate strength.
The strength of the Elite Beat Agents and the Ouendan are not their own, but that of those they are helping. They use no weapons, nothing that their targets do not already have within them. These are no simple cheerleaders, but protectors of the people, defenders of our conscious health. They are not only helping people through difficult circumstances, but they are promoting a feeling of trust and self-reliance within themselves. By helping people overcome these tasks through their own spirit, the cheer teams are letting their targets know that they are strong people, who can get through anything, so long as they put their heart into it—yet, simultaneously, they are teaching the people that the world is not a cruel place, and when it gets down to the wire, they can trust others to be there for them. No problem is too small or trivial, no task too grand to try. The Elite Beat Agents and the Ouendan are not about glory, but about making a world of optimists, one person at a time.